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High exposure of healthcare workers to workplace injury

When thinking of the jobs health care workers in Tennessee do, many would not really consider health care as dangerous. However, research done in the United States paints a different picture - health care workers face a significantly higher risk of suffering a workplace injury than the average employee. Exposure to violence is a daily occurrence in the working lives of the majority of these workers leading to situations in which the number of private hospital health care employees who had to stay home from work due to violence related injuries was five times higher than employees in other sectors.

Nurses and caregivers report being exposed to patients throwing objects, like lamps, being lifted by the neck, and in some cases kicked, bitten or grabbed. Awareness of the matter has been on the increase since the 2010 case in which a nurse working at state-run psychiatric hospital in another state was strangled and killed by a patient. Due to the increase in workplace assaults, nursing associations are calling for improved, wide-ranging protection.

No federal regulations to protect workers against violence exist, but some states do require preventative measures to be taken by private employers. Unfortunately, Tennessee is not one of these states.  California has just set a new standard by enacting a rule requiring facilities to assess their own risk of violence and formulate prevention plans that must be presented to OHSA for authorization. These rules take effect from January 2017.

Tennessee employees working at hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities remain exposed to a possible workplace injury resulting from the violent acts of patients. Those who suffer injuries may opt to file workers' compensation claims. Damages awarded in a successfully presented claim may assist an injured employee in meeting associated expenses, such as medical expenses, as well as loss of income. The benefits awarded are designed to provide a degree of relief to an injured employee and his or her family during an understandably difficult time.

Source: khn.org, "California Rules About Violence Against Health Workers Could Become A Model", Pauline Bartolone, Oct. 28, 2016

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